Betatakin Ruins – Navajo National Monument, AZ
We’d heard about Betatakin Ruins, an ancient ancestral Puebloan settlement, from Eric and Laurel who had hiked it a couple of years ago. Reading her post about the guided hike piqued our interest in the tightly-protected ruins. Fortunately we were able to work this great hike into our plans as we passed through the area again on our way to Monument Valley.
Off we went early one morning, thinking we’d just drive around to explore the monument, since ranger-guided hikes were not scheduled to begin until May (according to their website).
As usual we stopped at the visitor center upon our arrival, and I was happy to learn there would be a guided hike due to the large number of people who had requested one that morning. Ranger guide Jimmy Black was rounded up to take the group into the canyon just a few minutes after we arrived – how’s that for perfect timing!
Instead of describing our experience, I urge you to read Laurel’s excellent account of the hike. We had the same guide, the same strenuous hike 3 miles out and back, and the same ruins as our destination. The only difference was that Laurel and Eric had hiked it in the fall, while we were here for a springtime trek.
Navajo National Monument is off the beaten path, uncrowded and quiet. It protects three cliff dwellings which contain some of the best ruins on the Colorado Plateau. Betatakin and Keet Seel (a 17-mile hike) are seasonally open to the public, while Inscription House has been closed due to its fragility.
We were tired when we reached the top of the mesa. The hike down and up was strenuous, as advertised. That’s why Jimmy had made sure at the beginning that nobody had any hip, knee, heart or respiratory problems, or recent surgery. He did a great job of gauging the right speed for the group and when to stop for rest.
It was a tough hike, but the Betatakin Ruins were totally worth the effort!
Next up: Bluff, Utah – the second time around